This site is being completely overhauled with a new, cleaner layout and updated information on numerous topics of interest to pet owners, pet lovers and veterinary professionals.
During the transition, which will take several months, some of the older pages (from the website created in 1997) will still be available via the Other Topics links on this page. One by one, those pages will be replaced with revised, more streamlined versions that provide improved readability and contain the most recently available updates to content. It is hoped that these improvements will make this site attractive to new viewers and promote a frequent return viewership.
This month the featured topic is focused on DNA Testing for inherited disease. This article describes the current science of genetic testing for heritable diseases in our companion animals. The entire genome for dogs and cats has already been sequenced and science will now be able to provide a better understanding of heritable diseases, such as degenerative myelopathy, a devastating neurological disease which affects German Sherherd dogs and Welch Corgi dogs with a greater frequency than in other breeds.
Previous featured areticles can be found using the links at the bottom of the links window, to the left
Newman Veterinary Medical Services provides temporary veterinary services to companion animal veterinary hospitals and clinics all over the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Dr. Newman graduated Washington State University, School of Veterinary Medicine, in 1991, following a lengthy career in bioresearch.
To contact the company about this website or concerns related to general veterinary medicine, please use the form below. But keep in mind that without personally examining your pet, it is not possible...nor is it legal...for this website to offer specific medical advice, such as presumtive diagnoses, diagnostic testing or treatment options for your beloved pet(s). For such specific concerns, please visit your own veterinarian.
DNA Tests for Pets Help Us Understand Genetic Disease
Our understanding of diseases in people and pets has progressed from thinking that illness was caused by evil spirits to the current knowledge of microbes. Even further, the Human Genome Project has shown us the very molecular basis of conditions like cystic fibrosis or breast cancer. Does this information help our pets too?
by Jim Humphreys, Veterinary News Network
For thousands of years, humans have selectively bred a variety of domesticated animals, creating many different breeds and unique types. While these historic farmers and breeders were focused on producing the highest quality of wool from sheep or the muscular build of a Rottweiler, they were unaware of other, more destructive traits that were passed on as well.
Genetics is the science of heredity and how specific physical traits are passed from generation to generation in any organism. Most everyone can relate to genetics from high school science courses showing color blindness in human males or if you have the ability to roll your tongue. But, serious, life threatening diseases are also often governed by our genes and this holds true for pets and other animals as well.
Take Penny, for instance. She was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a breed of dog known for excellent cattle herding skills and a love of family. Sadly, these Corgis are also known for a genetic condition known as Degenerative Myelopathy, or DM. This disease essentially causes damage along the spinal cord, leading to progressively worsening weakness in the rear legs. Eventually, Penny was unable to move her rear legs due to paralysis. She was humanely euthanized after a long life with a family she adored
DM is not a treatable disease, but scientists have now pinpointed the mutation responsible for this illness. Almost four dozen different dog breeds have this altered gene present. Recent research has shown that only dogs who receive a copy of the mutated gene from both parents will develop the condition. This is known as a “recessive trait”. Other recessive conditions in animals include certain enzyme deficiencies in cats or some skin issues in horses.
Not all genetic diseases are this simple. Some are passed as dominant traits, some are linked to specific physical attributes and still others have multiple genes affecting the eventual outcome. Even the environment can influence the process of the disease or condition. Hip dysplasia in dogs is an example of a multi-gene and environmentally impacted problem.
The entire sequence of the canine genome was published in 2005. The genome of our feline friends was published around 2007 and just recently, the entire gene sequences of a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred have also been discovered. The good news in all of this is that as scientists and veterinarians better understand the root causes of hereditary issues, tests to find the disease and even possible treatment options become available.
Dr. Gus Cothran, professor at Texas A & M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine says that genetic testing will continue to prove to be of great value to veterinarians and even pet owners. “Imagine doing blood tests to find animals that are carrying certain mutations that might lead to deleterious conditions or diseases. Now, we can remove these animals from breeding programs before they are bred and help reduce the incidence of some very serious problems in our domesticated animals.
Tests for degenerative myelopathy in dogs and polycystic kidney disease in cats are just two of the dozens of genetic screenings that are now available. Facilities like Texas A&M’s Animal Genetics Lab and the University of California at Davis’ Veterinary Genetics Lab provide testing for animals ranging from our dogs and cats all the way up to horses, llamas, pigs and cattle. Other private companies, for example, VetGen or DNA Diagnostics Center, have also started reaching out to veterinarians and pet owners interested in this sort of testing.
While these tests may not remove the possibility of genetic disease, they still can be very valuable. Knowing the chance for disease exists can prompt pet owners and veterinarians to start intervention programs, such as swimming or increased exercise in the case of Corgis, which might delay the onset or progression of the condition.
Anyone interested in breeding domestic animals should familiarize themselves with the potential for genetic diseases. Your veterinarian can be very helpful in determining what kind of conditions are considered hereditary and even help you find the resources to test the animals you want to breed.
This page contains links to selected websites providing immediate access to information important to pet owners. Other links may be added as appropriate and/or requested by viewers.
Photo/Image of the Month
Purina One's camp for cat lovers includes a "campfire" made of kibble, cat-friendly yoga, 20 adoptable kitties and more.
These adorable dogs and cats were lucky enough to be welcomed into loving forever families — and they know it.
Bringing home a new cat? Follow Mikkel Becker's checklist to ensure your house is safe and welcoming for your feline.
Could your feline use a little more daily exercise? Here are some simple ways to get him moving that won’t break the bank.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
No one wants his best friend to be sick in the car. Dr. Andy Roark (literally) reveals the many signs of motion sickness.
No one wants their cat to be overweight. Check out our fun video for easy ways to use cat furniture, games, catnip, toys and cat trees to get your kitty some exercise.
Earlier this spring, hundreds of dogs in and around Chicago began showing signs of respiratory illness, which testing revealed to be caused by canine influenza. Further genetic testing revealed there was something unusual about this outbreak: It wasn't the usual H3N8 strain of canine influenza that was making dogs sick; it was H3N2, a strain that had previously only been identified in Asia. To date, the virus has caused at least six deaths, and more than 1,000 illnesses, in the Chicago area and neighboring states. In this podcast, Cornell University veterinarian Dr. Amy Glaser talks about this newly introduced strain of dog flu and how pet owners can keep their dogs from becoming infected.
Vaccines have played a major role in preventing disease and improving public health around the world. These benefits have been extended to our pets as well, helping to protect them from viruses such as rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. There is, however, a small but vocal anti-vaccination movement that questions the necessity of vaccines, and veterinary medicine may not be immune from this movement; New York magazine recently reported that some veterinarians have noticed an uptick in the number of pets that are not being vaccinated, due to a similar anti-vaccination ideology. In this podcast, Dr. Laurel Gershwin, a member of AVMA’s Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, discusses the importance of vaccinations for our pets.
February 1 marks the beginning of National Pet Dental Health Month. More than just a cosmetic issue, yellow teeth and bad breath can be a sign of serious disease in our pets, which may affect their kidneys, livers, and hearts. Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets, with most dogs and cats becoming affected by age 3. In this podcast, Dr. Jan Bellows, past president of the American Veterinary Dental College, talks about the importance of dental health for our pets.
How well protected are pets shortly after their rabies vaccinations are out of date, and what's the appropriate response for treating and caring for pets in such circumstances? These were the questions researchers set out to answer in a study published in the January 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA).
Will you be one of the millions of people making New Year’s Resolutions this year? If so, have you thought about including your pets in your New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps by partnering with a furry friend, you’ll be more inclined to stick to those healthy promises you made. And just like us, most of our pets could benefit from shedding a few pounds and spending more time being active. In this podcast, AVMA CEO Dr. Ron DeHaven talks about making New Year’s resolutions for your pets.
Across the country, communities have attempted to reduce the incidence of serious and fatal dog bites by restricting the ownership of certain types of dogs, most often pit bulls. But others, including some states, have made these types of breed-specific laws illegal. So are breed-specific laws an effective way to reduce the incidence of dog bites? Or do they unfairly target good dogs whose only crime is matching the description of what some people believe to be dangerous? In this podcast, Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane, an animal welfare scientist at the AVMA, discusses breed-specific legislation.
So you live in an Zone A area and have been told to evacuate—what to do about your pets? Take them with you! Because of the evacuation (and the imminent shut down of the MTA) you are allowed to bring Fido and Mittens on the subway with you....
The economic crunch, along with continued high unemployment rates and foreclosures, has created a secondary string of homelessness. Former furry family members, well-loved cats and dogs, are being abandoned or surrendered to animal shelters as...
Here's yet another sign the economy has gone to the dogs: Money-seeking thieves are pilfering pooches and selling them for profit. For the first seven months of 2011, reports of stolen dogs rose 49%, according to the American Kennel Club....
It's been eight months since Sharalyn Cooper has seen Fadidle, her 2-year-old miniature pinscher, but on Saturday, she held the tiny animal, with its "bat ears" quivering, to her chest and cried. After a couple of months of scouring...
"If 2007 was the Year of the Recall, welcome to the Decade of the Recall. Four years ago, major crises overtook the spinach, toy, and pet food industries. The sheer breadth of consumer products affected was unsettling while, with two of those...
'“The problem of salmonella in pet foods and pet treats, even in pet supplements like vitamins, is something people should be aware of,” said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a veterinary epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control...