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The Canine Genome and DNA Testing


 Have you ever looked at your adopted dog with its short legs, shaggy hair and brown spot encircling one eye, and wondered what dog breeds are in there?  Now that science has decoded the DNA of dogs, science can tell us many things.  Harvard and MIT programs unraveled the canine DNA sequence in 2006, which unleashed the potential for useful information.  Since then, many companies have begun doing genetic testing for dogs. 

Two main types of information are gleaned from testing: identifying what breeds are in a mixed -breed dog and looking for the presence of genetic mutations causing disease.  Now that we know what genes are normally present and in what order, we can compare any dog's genes to that normal.   We know the normal order of genes for most of the dog breeds.   Scientists have also found that many diseases have a genetic basis, and have found genetic markers for them.


Some people want to know what dog breeds are represented in their cross-bred dogs.  Most want to know just for the fun of it, but there is an advantage to knowing, in that you can predict some behaviors or diseases that are prevalent in certain breeds.  If your dog has any Border Collie or Australian Shepard in it, it will likely need a lot of exercise, and not be a good dog for living in an apartment.  If your dog has any Boxer in it, you would know to watch for heart disease, lymphoma, and tumors in general.  The reports identify which are the major breeds in your dog, and also find the breeds that are represented to a minor degree.

There are three main companies performing dog breed identification.   The Wisdom Panel can detect the most number of breeds, 157, and is done on a blood sample, so a visit to your veterinarian is needed.  More information can be found at wisdompanel.com.  The Canine Heritage Company can identify 105 breeds and uses a sample from a cheek swab.  More information can be found at canineheritage.com.
The BioPet Company can identify 63 breeds and uses a cheek swab; the kit is sold at many pet and on-line stores.  Their web address is biopetvetlab.com.

More valuable to veterinarians is the fact that now we can test for some diseases using genetic tests.  The laboratory looks for genetic markers, that is, changes in the DNA sequence that have been shown to be associated with a certain disease.  An example is a genetic mutation in Dalmatians discovered by University of California at Davis researchers.  Most mammals metabolize the amino acid purine (found in meat) into allantoin, which is excreted into the urine.  But, people, great apes, and some Dalmatians produce uric acid instead of allantoin.  This concentration of uric acid in the urine causes Dalamtians commonly to form urate stones in their bladder, and surgery is needed to remove them.   The identification of the genetic mutation now enables breeders to correct the problem.


Another genetic condition we can test for is Von Willebrand's Disease, a blood clotting disorder common in Doberman Pinschers.  These dogs do not clot their blood properly, and are at risk for severe hemorrhage even with a simple surgery.  Many veterinarians recommend that all Dobermans have this test before they are neutered or have a hysterectomy (spay) or any other surgery.  If they are shown to have this disease, they can receive a plasma transfusion to replace the missing clotting factor before their surgery.
The ability to test for genetic reasons for disease is a huge leap forward in medicine.  The future not only will show more diseases that have a genetic basis, but hopefully a method of changing or eliminating these mutations.

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List of Genetic
Tests for Disease in Dogs

Disease- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Breed- Irish Setter, Cardigan Welsh Corgi,Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Portuguese Water Dog, English Cocker Spaniel

Disease- Von Willebrand's Disease
Breed- Doberman Pinscher,Manchester Terrier, Shetland Sheepdog,Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Poodle, Scottish Terrier

Disease- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
Breed- Basenji,Dachshund, West Highland White Terrier

Disease-Severe Combined Immune Deficiency
Breed- Bassett Hound, West Highland White Terrier

Disease- Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency
Breed- Irish Setter

Disease-Congenital Stationary Night Blindness
Breed- Briard

Disease- Cystinuria
Breed- Newfoundland

Disease-  Fucosidosis   
Breed- Springer Spaniel




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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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