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Research & Development 

Research & Development

Canine DNA Research

If you had your dog’s genetic code mapped, what are all the things you could learn from his or her DNA? Fortunately, scientists are already hard at work studying dog genetics and learning new ways to help our furry friends be even healthier.

We are able to test your dog’s DNA for you. It’s a really simple process: we’ll ask you to collect a swab sample of your  dog’s cells, from the inside of his/her cheek. Send that to us, and our top-whizz scientists will run the DNA sample through our tests, to give you as much insight to your dog’s genetic code as possible. This will include information about your dogs’ ancestry, which breeds your dog has in his or her genetic make-up, or some indication of possible health conditions.

Genetics and Health

Genetics can tell us lots of things about our dogs. Finding out that your pup is part greyhound and part Doberman is just the tip of the iceberg! The genetic code also gives us valuable information about potential personality traits, genetic disease tendencies, how big your puppy might get, and if hair-shedding is in your future.

While we know it isn’t the only factor, dog DNA can also help predict whether a dog will develop certain health problems. Dog genetics can reveal whether a dog has genetic mutations that can result in disease, and that knowledge can empower pet parents to take preventive steps to minimize the potential impact. For example, MDR1 is a gene with a mutation contained within it that increases a dog’s sensitivity to medication. Dogs with an MDR1 mutation can have serious adverse reactions to drugs. Having your dog tested for the MDR1 gene mutation could arm you with the knowledge to save him from adverse reactions.

Inheritance and Environment

An easy way to understand dog DNA is to think of it as a blueprint for your dog’s body, predicting not only physical traits but behavioural ones as well. Historically speaking, most people believed that genes dictated an unavoidable future — if you had a genetic marker for disease, then you would get that disease. What we now know, however, is that even if a blueprint codes for a condition, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog will develop that condition.

In other words, your dog’s DNA does not dictate his destiny. Discover magazine explains that the reason for this is a network of other factors, called epigenetics, that influences how genes behave and express (turn on and off) without changing their physical makeup. Epigenetics encompasses both inherited expression factors and environmental influences.

Nutrigenomics: Nutrition + Genetics

The old adage holds true for us and our pets: you are what you eat. Nutrition is a powerful driver of epigenetic modifications that influences your dog’s DNA. Different ingredients and nutrients have the ability to influence a gene’s activity or expression, and can even change how genetic disease manifests. The study of the effect of nutrition on the genome is known as nutrigenomics. Current science can’t provide your vet with a magic formula for good health, but it’s an exciting new frontier in preventive medicine for our pets.

How can you benefit your dog’s genetic health? Do what you can to positively influence epigenetic factors: reduce your dog’s stress, give him plenty of exercise and feed him healthy food. Choosing healthy, research-based pet food that has been comprehensively studied and proven to benefit your dog’s biology is a great first step. You may not be able to change his inherited blueprint, but a little knowledge of genetics can help you keep your dog happy and healthy.

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