Can Dogs get Down Syndrome?

Apr 9, 2022 | 0 comments

4 min read

Can Dogs get Down Syndrome?
Young veterinary clinician in uniform and eyeglasses examining sick labrador dog with stethoscope in hospital

In terms of health concerns, there are numerous overlaps between dogs and humans. Both species suffer from anxiety, seizures as well as diabetes, and cancer (to just some).

As humans do, dogs can also inherit certain chromosomal diseases similar to Down Syndrome. Continue reading to learn the causes of Down Syndrome in humans, whether dogs can become affected with Down Syndrome, and how the chromosomal disorders are identified and treated for dogs.

What’s Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is a congenital chromosomal disorder, meaning it is present from the time of birth. The condition is caused by an additional duplicate of chromosome 21 that affects physical and cognitive development. People with Down Syndrome also have a greater risk of developing medical conditions like Alzheimer’s and heart diseases.

Did you know that there exist three types of Down Syndrome? They are known as trisomy 21 as well as mosaicism, translocation and.

However, before we go into the various types of Down Syndrome and their causes, we’ll look at how chromosomes operate. Chromosomes are the primary way to condense DNA molecules to be incorporated into our cells. The chromosomes of our bodies influence the physical look us to susceptibility to developing certain illnesses. Humans are blessed with 23 pairs of chromosomes. Typically we receive an identical copy of every chromosome from our parents. People with Down Syndrome have a third complete and partial copy of the 21st chromosome.

Humans suffering from the trisomy 21 form of Down Syndrome, the most prevalent, have two copies of chromosome 21 through either of their parents. The pair isn’t separated typically in the egg or sperm before or during conception. Research suggests that this problem commonly occurs within the egg.

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Translocation occurs when a different replica of the 21st chromosome is attached to an extra chromosome. This particular chromosome is typically associated with chromosome 14. Translocations account for 4 percent of instances of Down Syndrome.

The rarest type that is a part of Down Syndrome is called mosaicism. It occurs when the additional replica of chromosome 21, 21 does not duplicate across all cells. This means that specific cells possess 46 chromosomes, whereas others have 47. People who have this form of Down Syndrome may not exhibit the same clinical symptoms as those who suffer from trisomy 21.

Can dogs get Down Syndrome?

After you have learned how Down Syndrome develops in humans, You may be asking, “Can dogs get Down Syndrome? “

At present, the answer is currently no. Some sources claim that the answer isn’t simple. However, there’s not any research-based evidence to show the existence of Down Syndrome, as we recognize it in humans can also be found in dogs.

In reality, some diseases in dogs can be akin to Down Syndrome. This includes:

  • Pituitary is a form of dwarfism. The condition is most commonly seen in German Shepherds and some breeds that are wolf hybrids. This autosomal condition results from a shortage in hormone growth. In addition to a smaller physical size, dogs suffering from pituitary dwarfism are afflicted with various health issues such as kidney failure.
  • Congenital heart disease. The causes of this rare disorder vary, and genetics and environmental factors could have a hand in. The symptoms will differ based on the type of defect.
  • Hypothyroidism. The symptoms may resemble the symptoms of Down Syndrome, particularly regarding organ development and function, and metabolism. While it’s not common, dogs can inherit the condition through their parent.
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It is also essential to keep in mind that genetics in veterinary medicine is changing. While veterinarian geneticists have studied the genome of canines in-depth and have discovered over 300 genetic disorders, we don’t yet comprehend the genome as thoroughly as we know about humans’ genomes.

What does Down Syndrome similar in dogs and humans?

The dog may develop chromosomal issues as humans do, and some of the symptoms of these diseases are comparable to those seen in Down Syndrome. Some of them are:

  • A little smaller than the average head or face
  • delayed growth of muscles as well as cognitive growth
  • Poor eyesight and hearing
  • Physical imperfections, like short legs

What makes Down Syndrome different in dogs and humans?

In the beginning, canines possess 38 pairs of chromosomes. This means that chromosome 21 performs distinct functions in dogs and can carry different genes. Chromosomal disorders are also believed to be rare in dogs.

Humans who have Down Syndrome often enjoy an excellent standard of living. However, this cannot generally be said of those with chromosomal disorders. Tragically, dogs suffering from these conditions die before birth or soon after. The ones who do live often suffer from pain caused by malformed organs and the symptoms previously mentioned. Certain dogs suffering from chromosomal disorders might be unable to consume food.

 How are conditions like Down Syndrome in dogs diagnosed and treated?  

Since genetic testing is usually only offered by specialized labs, which are not technical, it is difficult to tell whether your dog is suffering from an abnormality in chromosomes.

Because chromosomal abnormalities can be congenital, there is no cure. The majority of the time, the treatment is an aid to alleviate the dog’s pain and enhance their overall quality of life as much as is possible, rather than treating the problem. Your vet will examine if the dog is suffering from special requirements. It is essential to inform your veterinarian of any signs of illness you’ve noticed and adhere to their recommendations with care.

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How to take care of your dog’s unique needs

If your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog as having special requirements, There are ways you can provide them with the best level of care. You can also ensure they are safe, happy, and healthy.

  • Regularly visit your veterinarian. Special-needs dogs usually require regular check-ups to ensure that they’re in good health. Be sure to see your veterinarian regularly and ensure you follow up with any tests or treatments.
  • Safeguard your environment. If your dog has difficulties with development or intelligence, It is essential to keep your surroundings as safe as possible. Be sure that the space is safe to move in and free of potential dangers. Install gates close to the stairs to stop the dog from falling and injuring themselves.
  • All dogs must get adequate nutrition, but it’s essential for dogs with special needs. Feed them a healthy diet. A well-balanced diet will ensure that their body gets the food required to function at its best levels.

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