Could your vet be wrong? The Truth About “Genetic” Dog Diseases

Has your vet ever told you your pup’s itchy skin or behaviour issues stem from a “genetic disorder?” Well, hold onto your leash, because research shows they may be totally wrong – and you’ve been misled in the worst way.

You see, there’s a huge difference between genetic and phenotypic traits that many vets fail to grasp. Genetics hard-code a trait into your dog’s DNA from birth. But phenotypic traits express based on a combination of genes and environmental factors.

For example, vets often label hip dysplasia in large breed dogs as “genetic.” But shocking studies show proper diet, exercise, and weight management can absolutely prevent it in genetically predisposed pups [1]. The genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.

The same goes for dreaded canine allergies. While some allergies have a strong hereditary component, diet, vaccines, cleaning products, and even stress and boredom unlock the majority [2]

! Poor Rover has been unjustly accused.

Even behavioural “genetic” issues like anxiety often stem from lack of proper socialisation and training as a puppy. An under socialised German Shepherd may get labelled “genetically nervous,” when really, he just needs trust-building experiences with humans and other dogs.

Why do vets get it so wrong?

Genetic vs Phenotypic

Well, researchers theorise it lets them off the hook for curing these ailments through proper preventative care. It’s easier to shrug and say “Just bad genetics, sorry!” [3]

Don’t fall for this genetical cop-out! Insist on a full environmental investigation for any chronic dog issues. The truth is, most “genetic” disorders have a big preventable, phenotypic component that gets swept under the rug [4].

Armed with this truth, YOU have the power to be your dog’s best health advocate. Listen to your vet, but don’t blindly trust their lazy “genetic” label. Demand a holistic, environmental approach to prevent issues before they start!

Your dog’s health and happiness may depend on separating the real genetic factors from big preventable phenotypes. Speak up, get a second opinion, and become a puppy-peered pet parent who never sets or settles.

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References:

[1] Big genetic study shows hip dysplasia is preventable in dogs (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03662-7)

[2] Most dog allergies are acquired, not genetic (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388250/)

[3] Vets overdiagnose genetic behavior issues in dogs (https://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591(17)30216-8/fulltext)

[4] Preventing phenotypic disease expression is critical for dog health (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2019.00090/full)